The Mingan Islands fascinate visitors both with their maritime wealth and biodiversity. The Canadian government has made it a national park reserve in order to protect and enhance this particular ecosystem.
The Mingan archipelago is known for its different species of seabirds, seals, its unusual relief and its surprising biodiversity. Visiting the islands promises a great adventure for both budding environmentalists and ocean lovers. Different family activities await you: camping, marine expeditions and many more. Keep reading to discover all the activities that await you!
Why go to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve?
The Mingan Archipelago arouses the interest of travelers from all over the world and attracts up to 40,000 travelers per year. Its uniqueness comes from the diversity of its fauna, its rocky limestone landscape and its mysterious flora.
The geography of the Mingan Islands
The Mingan Archipelago includes more than a thousand islands, cays and islets north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in eastern Quebec. The archipelago is 150 km² in total.
The islands stand out for their limestone formations caused by continuous erosion over several million years. These natural stone blocks called monoliths are an integral part of the unique landscape of this remote part of the world.
Due to major scientific interest, the islands are placed under the protection of the Canadian government. The latter classifies the archipelago as a national park of Canada. There are currently four of them across the country, which is enough to appeal to visitors and travelers from all 5 continents.
Historical and natural heritage
The archipelago has been occupied for over 2000 years by an indigenous population. It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that the Basques arrived there to practice cod fishing and whaling.
Remains found on Île Nue de Mingan and in the Mingan Archipelago National Park bear witness to this activity. Among the objects identified, there is a furnace intended for melting fat from marine mammals; a tangible trace of the evolution of the technology of yesteryear.
It’s its distinct environment that attracts the most attention. The Mingan Islands are home to some endemic plant and animal species. However, what probably makes its identity is its limestone geology strongly marked by erosion.
Monoliths are not only spectacular in their shapes and sizes, they are sort of time machines. They allow an in-depth reading of the history of the Minganie landscapes.
Main attractions of the Mingan Islands
A visit to the Mingan Archipelago has several surprises in store for you. If the imposing monoliths are the first attractions, they are not the one and only wealth of these lands.
On the Mingan Islands, you will not only enjoy an extraordinary geological landscape, but also a marine environment rich in biodiversity. Off the coast you will spot whales, seals and seabirds of all kinds. This landscape is all the more impressive from the air.
When to visit the Mingan Islands?
As with any tourist destination, high and low seasons must be taken into account. To take advantage of some of the archipelago’s attractions, it is best to come in early summer.
The climate on the Mingan Islands
The same Canadian climate is found on the Mingan Islands. The cold reigns there most of the year. The average maximum temperature is 19.3 °C, which compared to the summer heat in Quebec is quite cool. This condition is due to the consequent size of the Gulf of St. Lawrence basin.
What is the best season to visit the Mingan Archipelago?
As you can imagine, some activities can only be observed during a specific period of the year. To see the birds and plants in bloom, early summer is still the best time to come to the islands. This favorable season is between mid-June and the beginning of July.
The sky remains clear and the weather is ideal for doing tourist activities throughout the archipelago or for visiting it from above.
What are the best adventures in the Mingan Islands archipelago?
With the thousand islands, islets and cays that make up the Mingan archipelago, it is impossible to visit everything in a few weeks. Here are a few key destinations:
Île nue de Mingan
A favorite tourist destination for many visitors, Île nue owes its name to its treeless vegetation. The winds rule the place, so don’t forget your coat for this visit.
The main attractions of the island are:
- Well-preserved fossils
- The sound of the whales heard from afar
Île aux perroquets
Île aux perroquets is a perfect destination for a family day out. As the name suggests, the island is populated by parrots. They can be observed up close, which is sure to please children.
Among the species encountered:
Central archipelago islands
The environment of the central islands of the Mingan Archipelago differs greatly from that of the islands in the west or on the north coast. If in the west the vegetation is not very marked, in the center you will not only discover more monoliths, but also the boreal forest.
The islands you will visit are:
- Île Niapisku
- Île Quarry
- Île au marteau
What are the best activities to do in the Mingan Archipelago?
Tourism companies on the Mingan Islands compete in ingenuity to offer visitors a unique experience filled with beautiful surprises. Here are some suggestions to add to your planning this summer:
1. Excursion in the Bay of the Romaine
On the Mingan Archipelago, you can do various expeditions on the waters. Among the companies that offer this type of activity, Noryak Aventures stands out for the diversity of its attractions. On the program, hiking (beginner, family, initiates), sea kayaks in the bay and a visit to the fall of the Romaine river. This expedition is reserved for people over 10 years old.
2. 4-day trip
Several activities are on the agenda: sightings of seabirds and seals, camping in comfortable tents, kayaking routes, hiking and water taxi rides.
3. Sea kayak excursion to the Île aux Perroquets
This program is intended for seasoned kayakers. It takes a lot of stamina to cover the 20 km stretch between île aux perroquets, île du Wreck and île à la maison in 8 hours. For more information, click here!
4. Logistical support for expedition on magpie river
During this 8 to 7 day trip, Noryak Aventures offers you a descent rich in adrenaline. Your luggage will be carried by 2 catarafts of 18 feet and you will benefit from air transport to arrive at the place of departure and to leave the river on the last day.
5. All Inclusive Package: Magpie River Descent Expedition
This journey leaves from Havre-Saint-Pierre and lasts 6 days. It is a white water adventure not recommended for beginners. Fast currents are quite dangerous, but they deliver a healthy dose of adrenaline. The calm waters will give you a little break between intense moments.
How to get to the Mingan archipelago?
The Mingan Archipelago can be accessed in several ways. Among the possible means of transport, we have:
- The car
- The bus
- The plane
- The boat
- The seaplane
Route 138 will take you to the islands. It starts from Quebec and covers a total of 850 km. At the end, you will arrive at the reception and interpretation center of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. Two entries are possible:
- At Longue Pointe
- In Havre-Saint-Pierre
Air Tunilik offers several services and destinations on the Mingan Islands. Several points of the islands are covered by this air transport agency, namely:
- Manic 5